We're funding NGOs providing empowering, long-term aid to those who have experienced violence and persecution.
In the 2021-22 academic year, we are thrilled to be able to provide grants totalling £142,000 to 8 different NGOs, working in Greece, where SolidariTee's grant-giving first focussed, as well as internationally. Scroll down to read more about the work we're supporting.
CN: t*ortue, s*xual violence, su*cide
Who we're supporting
Legal aid in the Greek context
Though today Greece receives far fewer numbers of new arrivals of those seeking asylum than in 2015, when the 'refugee crisis' in Europe first began, conditions and access to basic legal and human rights is, if possible, even more difficult to come by.
Asylum seekers arriving on Greek islands such as Lesvos are placed in mandatory quarantine for 2 weeks, but during this time are often given little to no information about the legal process they will be embarking on. Screenings for legally recognised vulnerabilities, such as having experienced torture, sexual or gender based violence, as well as for physical and mental health conditions, are often incomplete or not performed during this time. Upon release, asylum seekers frequently have just a matter of days before their pivotal asylum interview, leaving almost no time to collect with vital documents or meet with a lawyer. Moreover, conditions in camps across Greece are incredibly poor. Accommodation frequently consists of little more than open air tents, wholly unsuitable to the freezing winds which are common in Greek winters, and permission to leave camps is not guaranteed. EU funding has also recently been announced for new 'closed' camps, which have raised huge concern among human rights groups.
Many asylum seekers who arrive via small boats to the islands are transferred to mainland Greece, whilst others reach the mainland via land border crossings, and legal aid NGOs are overburdened by the level of need. There are 12 refugee camps in Northern Greece, where people are forced to live in similarly poor conditions, whilst other refugees and asylum seekers have no choice but to sleep rough in parks or urban areas. It is not surprising that, through a combination of the violence and persecution someone has been forced to flee, inhumane and hostile reception conditions and gruelling legal limbo, mental health is generally incredibly poor, with PTSD, anxiety, depression and acute suicidality being commonplace.
Asylum processes are incredibly complex legal processes, almost impossible to navigate without expert guidance, and exist within a system which is set up to actively disempower those seeking asylum. Legal aid NGOs inform people of their rights, provide representation, assist with family reunification in cases where loved ones are separated across borders, and support people to access medical and psychological services. We believe legal aid to be one of the most empowering, durable forms of aid we can offer.
Right: Mavrovouni camp, Lesvos, 2020
Legal Centre Lesvos
"Since August 2016, we provide free and individual legal information and assistance to migrants who arrived by sea to Lesvos, where our office is based. Beyond this continuous and direct support, we work on documenting violations of migrants’ rights and engage in advocacy and strategic litigation to hold the Greek government, Member States of the European Union, and European institutions to account. In addition, we advocate for equal access to safe and legal routes of migration in Greece, Europe and globally."
Mobile Info Team
The Mobile Info Team (MIT) has supported over 700 asylum cases, representing over 1,500 refugees, and specialising in family reunification. An asylum claim cannot be straightforwardly transferred from one country to another, leaving many family members and unaccompanied minors stranded across several different countries, with the threat of deportation hanging over them.
Thus far, their advocacy has directly resulted in countless positive application decisions for those struggling to navigate the complex asylum process. MIT use a 3 tier system: their social media provides essential information to their followers, which includes many refugees; they have a WhatsApp hotline for asylum seekers’ concerns and enquiries; and hold in-person sessions, with group sessions to provide information and one-to-one casework sessions.
Equal Legal Aid
Equal Legal Aid is a nonprofit organisation providing high quality pro-bono legal aid to displaced persons in and around the area of Thessaloniki, Greece.
Their team of trained lawyers and interpreters is working relentlessly to assist asylum seekers and migrants in the course of their asylum procedure.
ELA believes that every individual should be able to take well-informed decisions during their asylum process. This means the right to legal assistance and the right to accurate and up to date information regardless of their social positioning.
From January to June 2021, Equal Legal Aid assisted 255 beneficiaries, corresponding to 125 cases, 127 individual consultations and 115 interview preparation sessions.
Fenix Humanitarian Legal Aid
"Fenix was founded in November of 2018 by 5 young professionals who believed that there was a need for a different, more holistic approach to legal aid in humanitarian contexts. Two years later Fenix celebrates having over 50 staff members and volunteers who provide what we have coined 'Holistic Legal Aid'.
This is a service that addresses the legal, protection, psychological, social and emotional needs of our clients through legal, protection and mental health services to the most vulnerable amongst the vulnerable: unaccompanied minors, survivors of torture and sexual gender based violence, and people with medical issues or disabilities.
In the last 32 months, Fenix has assisted over 3,700 asylum seekers and refugees from 25 countries in 11 different languages. Our multidimensional, survivor-led and trauma-informed approach to legal aid combines effective and skilled individual case work and emergency response with high quality evidence-based advocacy and strategic efforts at the local, national and European level. We strongly believe in the power of our work: in information, safety and empowerment as compelling tools for healing trauma and fostering integration, and in community engagement, advocacy and strategic litigation as means for structural change."
Asylum Seekers Information
A.Ss.I.S.T’s mission is to ensure all asylum seekers have access to fair process when their case is being assessed through the provision of information and legal aid, and that those ineligible for asylum still receive adequate information and support about their situations. They work with the core values of accountability, honesty, respect and responsibility, and impartiality.
From July to December 2019, they supported over 1000 asylum seekers through information Sessions and legal aid provision. There are few lawyers on Chios who are qualified to support refugees in their asylum applications, with A.Ss.I.S.T working to fill this gap.
Elpida Home is an innovative Greek non-profit organization committed to providing a humane, dignified, and empowered living experience for refugees and other vulnerable groups. They look to better the world by providing sustainable solutions in order to ensure successful integration to society. Elpida Home’s legal department serves our community center in Thessaloniki, Greece, the broader Northern Greece region and in particular, detention centers.
NGOs working outside Greece
In addition to the 6 NGOs working across Greece, where SolidariTee's work first began, we are delighted to also be able to support NGOs working internationally this year. Over the past few years, violence at borders across Europe and beyond has become an increasing problem, with reports of 'pushbacks' at both land and sea being commonplace, whilst global human rights violations involving persecution and legal injustice continue to occur.
To learn more about the challenges experienced by those forced to flee their homes worldwide, view our infographics:
Global Echo Law Center is a non-profit law firm that works with affected communities and civil society organizations to end corporate human rights violations in areas of armed conflict and occupation.
"Ethnovision is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of excluded and marganalised groups by amplifying their stories and providing durable solutions to their challenges. Our vision is to create inclusive societies with equal rights for all. "Through our work we bear witness, present solutions and demand action."
Ethnovision works in the Former Yugoslav countries with a focus on conflict affected people including vulnerable refugees, migrants and people on the move in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the Western Balkans temperatures can drop as low as -20, and with refugees and migrants often fleeing wearing shoes suitable for hot conditions with only the clothes on their backs, hypothermia and frostbite is a reality for many. Asylum services in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are difficult to access, and these countries are almost always not a tenable final destination for those who intend to seek asylum.
Their work involves documenting the humanitarian conditions of vulnerable people as well as taking victim and/or witness statements concerning incidents of violence, recording Government efforts to block access to humanitarian aid and asylum or to deprive asylum seekers of their rights to a fair hearing regarding their refugee claims, and to record the forcible return of people over the borders or to places where their lives or freedoms would be threatened.